PB Paris: A blaugrana nexus for French and Catalan fans
REPORTS 15 Feb 2021 - Supporters' Clubs World Confederation
The fifth largest FC Barcelona supporters’ club in Europe stands out for its diversity and pride in representing the club
The 6-1 comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16 of the 2016/17 Champions League will be forever etched in the minds of Barça fans around the world. Interestingly, one of the supporters’ clubs that most fondly remembers that feat is that based in the city of the opposing team that day: the Penya Blaugrana of Paris. Many of its members had suffered in person a painful defeat in the French capital during the first leg of the tie. For all of them, the initial dejection ended up becoming euphoria.
"It's not easy to live alongside a team as big as PSG, which has also become one of Barça's main European rivals, but our supporters’ club continues to grow year after year," explains the president of PB Paris, Salem Gamar. The group has become the largest in all of France and the fifth in Europe in terms of membership numbers. In its 10 year existence, it has grown from two dozen people in 2010 to well over 300 members today.
Diversity as a calling card
PB Paris is considered the home of every Barça fan living in the city, which includes not only French people, but also a large number of people from Catalonia and other parts of Spain. As Gamar explains, “the creation of our group arose from the passion shared by a group of Catalan and French people who lived in Paris, who decided to create the supporters’ club to attract the rest of the city's Barça fans and offer them a meeting point”. The Penya stands out for the diversity of its members in terms of origin, culture and also social class. Its president equates it to the values of FC Barcelona: "Respect, tolerance, inclusion, fair play and humility define the spirit of our supporters club."
The PB Paris also seeks to spread these values and serve as an example to society around them. In addition, the supporters' club promotes Barça's link with Catalonia and its culture, and even promotes the region as a tourist destination. This commitment to the two cultures is reflected in the movement: “The link with other French and French-speaking supporters’ clubs is especially strong, as we have formed a very active group and often organise activities and meetings. We also have good relations with several Catalan supporters’ clubs. Despite the distance between us, we experience a passion for Barça in the same way," says Gamar.
Active and charitable
Although they have been forced into a pause due to the pandemic, the Penya Blaugrana of Paris maintains very high activity throughout the year. At its premises, in the heart of the French capital, its members gather to watch first team matches, and any Barça fan who is visiting the city is also invited. However, as the president points out, this does not end there: "We organise sports activities, such as friendly football matches between our members or against other supporters’ clubs, as well as group excursions, competitions and other leisure or cultural events.”
In terms of charity, the PB Paris maintains a special collaboration with two entities: The Eric Abidal Foundation, which helps children being treated for cancer, and the “Gol de Letra” Foundation, created by two former Brazilian PSG players that works towards social integration in their country through education, culture and sport. PB Paris contributes to fundraising for both, and also participates in some of their charity events.
The PB Paris are looking forward to being able to resume travel and cheer the team on from the stands, either in matches at the Camp Nou or on away trips, and to their traditional visits to Barcelona which come once or twice every year. The World Congress of Supporters' Clubs is always marked on its calendar, as an opportunity to share their passion for FC Barcelona with the rest of the supporters’ club movement.